On Thursday 30 March 2023, I made a speech in Federal Parliament to call out the Labor Government's 'budgetary restraint' when it comes to the needs of everyday people while putting billions in funding towards fossil fuels, tax cuts for billionaires, and nuclear submarines. You can watch the speech here or read the full transcript below.
E WATSON-BROWN: 'Restraint is the name of the game in this budget'—the words of Jim Chalmers, the Treasurer. Is it restraint to spend $368 billion on nuclear submarines? Is it restraint to spend $12 billion a year every year for 30 years to buy eight submarines that will only make us more likely to follow the US into another war? Is it restraint to spend $254 billion on $9,000 tax cuts for billionaires and the very wealthy? Is it restraint to spend $40 billion on subsidies for fossil fuel companies? It seems that, when the Treasurer preaches restraint, that applies only to everyday people. In reality, this government is on a reckless spending binge of over $600 billion for the very wealthy, for big coal and gas corporations, and for massive weapons manufacturers.
This government has $600 billion for the big corporations and billionaires but only $500 million a year for affordable housing, which will see the housing crisis get worse. There's $600 billion for the big corporations and billionaires but not a cent more for our woefully underfunded public schools. There's $600 billion for the big corporations and billionaires but not a cent to bring dental into Medicare. There's $600 billion for the big corporations and billionaires but not a cent more for raising the pension so older Australians don't live in poverty.
The government is spending $368 billion on nuclear submarines. This is truly staggering in its economic irrationality, recklessness and cowardice. These submarines aren't for defending Australia. They're supporting the US's attempt to dominate the Pacific to secure its strategic interests, which, mind you, just happen to be the interests of its biggest multinational corporations. These submarines draw us ever further into an alliance with the US, who—if we aren't all suffering from major collective memory loss—led us into a war in Afghanistan that, 20 years later, simply saw the return of the Taliban; a war in Iraq that left hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead and further destabilised the entire region; and, not to mention, further back—and I'm old enough to remember this too—the disastrous Vietnam War. These submarines don't bring us closer to peace. They bring us closer to war.
I'll end with this: there's a large community of military veterans in my electorate of Ryan, and my office is regularly contacted by veterans struggling to access the support they deserve through the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Many of them have contacted me, concerned about the increasingly bellicose language of this government. They want peace, and they want the government to put money into supporting the veteran community and into mental health. But the government has restraint for veterans and spending sprees for warmongering.